An Alabama mother was arrested after giving birth to a baby addicted to heroin.
On the day Alexandra Nicole Laird, 21, gave birth to a baby girl, she tested positive for opiates and amphetamines, AL.com reports.
Less than a week after the birth, the baby was transferred to an intensive care unit for one month, where she suffered from withdrawals. Laird confessed to authorities soon after that she had been using heroin several times a week for at least half of her pregnancy.
Laird was arrested roughly one month after giving birth. She was released from jail on bail.
Two months later, Laird was arrested once again on separate drug-related charges after a traffic stop revealed she and a man she was with were in possession of 38 hydrocodone pills.
Laird now faces multiple charges, including chemical endangerment of a child, which is a felony charge. Authorities have refused to grant Laird custody of her daughter.
"You won't know you've truly victimized this child until much later in life when she has trouble in school, trouble functioning,'' Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid said.
The case represents America's larger opiate problem which has become an issue among pregnant women.
In 2013, more than 27,000 babies were born dependent on drugs. Statistics reveal that one baby is born craving opioids every 19 minutes, according to Reuters.
In West Virginia, the problem has become so prominent that one hospital built a dimly lit unit primarily for babies with symptoms of drug withdrawal.
“It’s relentless. There’s no break,” said Rhonda Edmunds, a neonatal nurse in Huntington, West Virginia. “You can just imagine a sleep-deprived parent, who can’t cope with her own issues, let alone their baby, and how that can lead to abuse or neglect.”
Advocates believe progress could be made if the Obama administration took aggressive action to fight the problem, reports Reuters.
“When are they going to start doing something?” Dr. Loretta Finnegan, an expert in neonatal abstinence syndrome, asked in an interview with Reuters. “We know these babies are very difficult to care for. If you do not create the proper conditions for mother and child, when they go home it’s a setup for the mothers or others in the home to commit abuse.”